Best of Show: D-Day With The National WWII Museum

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

HSMAI’s 2019 Adrian Awards competition — celebrating creativity and innovation in hospitality advertising, digital marketing, and public relations — honored its winners at the Adrian Awards Dinner Reception and Gala in New York City on Jan. 21. The top honor of the night went to three Best of Show winners. Take some inspiration from one of them: The National WWII Museum’s “Owning an Entire News Cycle: D-Day With The National WWII Museum,” which was honored in the Public Relations/PR Campaign/Special Event category. (View all of last year’s Adrian-winning submissions here.)

BACKGROUND: Seventy-five years after Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, The National WWII Museum sought to take advantage of the media coverage surrounding the diamond-anniversary celebration of D-Day in June 2019 and generate impactful coverage of the museum and its subsequent events. Located in New Orleans, The National WWII Museum is dedicated to telling the story of the American experience in the war and educate all generations on the sacrifices that were made. The campaign’s goals were to inspire and educate visitors on the lessons that can be learned from WWII, position the museum’s historians as go-to spokespeople for WWII stories, and drive traffic and donations to the museum.

CAMPAIGN: To start, the campaign targeted a wide audience across the United States but focused on veterans and their families through placements in influential broadcast, print, and online outlets. Historians and WWII veterans were interviewed in both Normandy and New Orleans for the various media spots, telling specific stories of those who fought and providing a broader historical context for the events of June 6, 1944.

The stand-out part of the campaign began in late May, when the National WWII Museum launched two cruises following the path of Germany’s conquest of Western Europe and the subsequent Allied efforts to regain control and liberate the continent. The cruises culminated with a June 6 arrival at Omaha Beach to partake in commemorative D-Day events. Along with historians, WWII veterans were on the cruise, some returning to the beaches where they fought for the first time since they landed there 75 years ago. In New Orleans, more historians and veterans took part in another series of celebrations beginning with an H-Hour ceremony at 6:30 a.m. — the exact time of the D-Day landings.

RESULTS: The campaign generated more than 1.3 billion media impressions, the equivalent of more than $46 million in advertisement spending. Placements included 132 broadcast segments (192 million impressions), with pieces on Fox News, CNN, PBS, and a CBS News Special Report, as well as 13 national print placements (18 million impressions), including the front page of The New York Times, and 102 online placements (1.1 billion impressions). The museum’s website broke several records, including its highest number of visitors in one day — nearly 75,000 on June 6 — and highest number of visitors in the month of June, at 480,000. June 2019 also generated an increase of 37 percent in online donations and broke a record for museum visitation.

WHY IT WON: Adrians judges were very impressed with “Owning an Entire News Cycle: D-Day With The National WWII Museum.” Here is what several of them had to say about it why they thought it was the best of the best:

  • “It’s highly interactive, making the past relevant to the present and future. It educates and enlightens about what matters, and that was really powerful.”
  • The New York Times feature story really stood out, especially since it was timed to drop the day before the anniversary and helped cause the web traffic to double.”
  • “It was about storytelling. It wasn’t about ‘come see the new museum.’ It showed the power of what storytelling is and what PR does.”
  • “To incorporate the veterans’ and their children’s stories into this campaign was really brilliant. The narrative became ‘What do we learn from this in the current generation?’ It worked really well.”

Categories: Marketing, Public Relations
Insight Type: Articles, Best Practices